The Changelog

Open Source moves fast. Keep up.

#95: Civic hacking w/ Mike and Ezra at Code for America

Adam Stacoviak and Andrew Thorp talk with Michal Migurski (CTO) and Ezra Spier (Fellow) about civic hacking at Code for America, technical sustainability in government, skill gap for more modern software in government, open city data and more. If you’re a developer, designer, researcher, data enthusiast, urban planner, or entrepreneur who wants to make a […]

Export Esri feature classes to open data formats like CSV, JSON, and GeoJSON #

We’ve been covering the topics of open government and open data since nearly the start of The Changelog. More recently, we covered the city of Chicago being on Github and how they open sourced various datasets for civic and commercial usage. Needless to say, the topics open government and open data is something we hackers get excited about.

Wednesday — March 13th (2013), Michael Byrne, Geographic Information Officer for the FCC, announced a new project on Twitter, and welcomes your help to improve it.

From the readme:

Much of the data in government coffers is contained in spatial databases. A large percentage of government spatial data is ESRI software. While the common interchange format, the ESRI Shapefile, is easily exported and imported by many other softwares, this data file format (the Shapefile) is not intrinsically part of the www ecology.

Basically, many government agencies use proprietary software, such as ESRI software, to do their day to day data storage and analysis, but getting that data out and into an open data format like CSV, JSON, or GeoJSON takes some extra effort — esri2open helps to solve this problem.

Check out the project on GitHub to learn more and help improve it!

The City of Chicago is on Github #

Recently the City of Chicago released five datasets under an open source MIT License on GitHub.

The datasets released are:

  1. Street center lines in Chicago
  2. Building footprints in Chicago
  3. Bike routes in Chicago
  4. Pedway routes in Chicago
  5. Bike rack locations in Chicago

They had this to say:

Anyone can now change the data when new bike paths are built, when roads are under construction, and new buildings are erected. When you want to improve our data, just fork it. Users are encouraged to improve data accuracy, combine it with other data sources, or download and use it for analysis or a new app.

Users have the right to download, modify, or use it for any purpose, including commercialization.

This means that projects like OpenStreetMaps will be able to add over 2GBs of Chicago data to their site. This also means that companies and Chicago startups who would like to leverage this data are able to as part of daily business.

Chicago’s Code For America Brigade also recently forked Code for America’s Adopt a Hydrant project to start Chicago Shovel’s Adopt-a-Sidewalk site as well.

If you have questions or would like to speak with the City of Chicago’s data team, email or contact @ChicagoCDO on Twitter.

Discuss or up-vote on Hacker News.